Back in the 1980's, France-born Algerians came in heaps as they flood through our ports in their estate cars and their "Sacs de Marseille" to see their cousins and visit their parent’s villages, go to the beaches and spend their time playing the white man in Africa at our expense! with their Tati (2) wardrobes and their condescending behaviour towards the local Algerians, sporting their favourite LeCoq sportif tracksuits and bringing their leftovers to their "needy" cousins who would welcome them with open arms and accept gifts graciously not mainly because they need them but also because anything coming from FRANSSA is obviously superior (Colon complex etc).
Thought: Algeria circa 1980s reminds me of Economical-embargoed Cuba circa now.
Having grown up getting visits from our cousins who resided in the 50th Algerian province “Marseille” they visit us on summer holidays and we visit them during winter holidays. We were required to bring date, couscous and they would bring the items Algeria didn’t have but craved mainly fashion and bananas! Oh les bananes weshbik!
Now that Algeria has opened up to the international scene (and bananas are available) and our generation has grown up, we realise our naivety and childish obliviousness to our cousins’ condescendence and false superiority which has now transformed into an inferiority complex...
Algerians of post-independence Algeria grew up in their own land, enjoyed free education and suffered no discrimination or bigotry from any oppressor like the France-born Algerians did whilst growing up in France, where they were never welcomed and were in fact treated like 2nd class citizens, always made to feel unwelcome and never really at home regardless of the length of their presence or the fact they were born there.
This same treatment was mirrored in Algeria, the feeling of not being at home when they visit their parents' homeland and however much they might feel Algerian at heart, they can’t help but be part French and therefore different to us or at least they are made to feel it from the same Algerians they used to play White colon in Africa with. Revenge or inevitable consequence?
Now in 2011, living in the UK, we meet theses same Émigrés who used to look down on us, well tried to anyway, being in the UK which is a neutral ground for the French, les Émigrés and the Algerians, we are all the same, UK rules apply to all of us although to a different degree in certain areas like border access and passport control but that is not the main concern of this blog. I spoke to a number of Émigrés and they all confess to feeling at ease here in the UK where they can belong or just be themselves, they can choose to be French, Algerian or both whenever it suited them.
Though, I noticed their behaviour towards the Algerians has changed and an inferiority complex seem to have developed as suspected, they feel that the Algerians enjoyed a better life and were/are able to make a good life for themselves here or anywhere they may go, great adaptability and integration into any society whereas they have a harder time integrating when they grew up in a segregated group, growing up as 2nd generation Émigrés, born in poor families with predominantly illiterate parents who came to work the factories in France and re-build Paris after the World War II not able to offer many prospects for their children especially in a racially prejudiced society like France where they were not encouraged to integrate and were labelled “Les Musulmans, Les Arabes” which has become almost synonymous with under-developed, unemployable and in some cases dangerous.
Why do they (les émigrés) treat Algerians with such despise and arrogance?
As a sweeping generalisation and my humble social analysis and view, it is because in their own opinion or in the opinion of the average émigré (Miloud, Othmane, Zoubir and Faroudja): They lived in France, they are European and should therefore systematically be our superior especially since we were their African cousins they used to give their leftovers to and come to take us to the beach with them and buy us Ice-dream, because they can speak French better than us, which isn’t necessarily true and absolutely doubtful in some cases and because despite all their “advantages” we Algerians still come out on top with better jobs, better development prospects, better travelling opportunities, better family values, better traditions or use of AND better English accent.
Le bonjour chez vous Mouloud, Zoubir, Othman et Faroudja (3) and no offence!
(1) Le bled: Country, used in Algeria to reffer to the ancestral village or origin
(2) Tati: French couterpart of Primark
(3) Common Algerian names - Fictional in this blog of course!